Boy Scouts lift ban on gay youths on New Year's Day - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Boy Scouts to lift ban on gay youths on New Year's Day

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The Boy Scouts will lift its ban on gay youth members on New Year's Day.

Sixty-one percent of the scouts voting delegates approved the change in May.

Leaders with the group Scouts for Equality believe there's still more work to be done with the Boy Scouts.

One of the co-founders of Scouts for Equality told us he wants the Boy Scouts to end all discrimination within the program because while he's happy with lifting the ban on gay youth members, once they become adults, they would not be able to serve as leaders.

Change is coming to the Boy Scouts of America. The organization officially ends its ban on gay youth January 1, 2014, but some scout leaders believe it will be just another day.

Tom Smotherman, Scout Executive of the Sioux Council of Boy Scouts, said "the only difference in our membership standard is simply that the young person admitting that they are openly homosexual is no longer a reason for dismissal from the Boy Scouts."

And Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, calls it a step in the right direction.

"It begins to undo the damage that this ban has inflicted on the Boy Scouts in the last 35 years," Wahls said.

But lifting the ban on gays only applies to youth members, not adult leaders. So some believe there's still work to be done with the scouts. Wahls says discrimination towards anyone sends a harmful message.

"If gay youth are being told they can participate in the program but only until you are 18, or straight scouts are seeing that their friends with gay parents, that those parents can't be a part of the program, that's a harmful message to kids, so we want to make sure that nobody is being taught that discrimination is OK," Wahls said.

Wahls believes the scouts should be a home for every boy.

"Being an eagle scout taught me the leadership skills that have made my work with this campaign possible and being an eagle scout gave me a moral compass that has really been important as I've navigated my life as a young adult," Wahls said.

"I'm no longer a youth member of the program but once an eagle scout, always an eagle scout," Wahls added.

He's now 22 years old, but as Wahls said, he'll always be an eagle scout.

It's the highest rank you can earn as a youth member of the scouts, but he was inspired to create Scouts for Equality because his parents are lesbians.

Smotherman told us there may be some members who are not happy with lifting the ban nationally, but says people quitting the Scouts hasn't been a problem here.

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